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Hospice care helps ill focus on living

To the editor:

No one likes to think about death and dying, but it’s something everyone has to face eventually. The Hospice of Western Massachusetts is an incredible resource in our community that provides comfort, dignity and respect to all those coping with a serious or life-limiting illness.

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, a time to reach out to our community to raise awareness about the compassionate care that hospice services provide. One of the most important messages to help people understand is that hospice helps patients and families focus on living.

The hospice team provides expert medical care to keep patients comfortable and able to enjoy time with loved ones. The hospice team answers questions, offers advice on what to expect, and helps families with the duties of being a caregiver. The team also provides emotional and spiritual support for the entire family.

Hospice care is available to people of all ages, with any illness. It is covered by Medicare, Medicaid in most states, and by most insurance plans and HMOs. Hospice care is provided in the home, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and long term care centers.

Hospice benefits are intended for the final months of a patient’s life, yet more than 35% of patients die or are discharged within seven days of starting hospice care. This time is too short to gain the full benefits of hospice care.

Hospice professionals and trained volunteers will ask you what’s important and listen to what you say. They make your wishes a priority.

The best time to learn more about hospice care is before you need it. But if you or a loved one is facing a serious or life-limiting illness, the time to find out more about hospice care is right now.

David A. McDougall, D.O.

Feeding Hills

Dr. David A. McDougall is medical director of Hospice Services of Western Massachusetts based in Feeding Hills.

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